Greg Durocher has spent all of his adult life connected to business and politics. As a young entrepreneur in Cambridge in the late 70″s Greg always had a strong opinion on what was simply, to him, common sense. As a young business leader he found his way to the semi-political ranks of Chairing the local Business Improvement area known as the Preston Towne Centre BIA. Along with his interest in business and politics, Greg also had a passion for baseball, and not only coached his two son’s, but also found himself at the top of the local ladder as President of the Cambridge Minor Baseball Association. Both his business and baseball interests led him down the road to what would become, as he would say, his destiny. In November of 1991 at 35 years old, Greg was Elected to serve as Council Member for the Ward 2, Preston area seat on Cambridge City Council. Out of the gate, Greg was not shy to voice his opinion, stand up for business and work diligently for the constituents of Ward 2. Serving in many posts as called upon by the Mayor, Greg also Chaired Council’s Budget Task Force for many of his 9 years on Council, and led Cambridge to an unprecedented 10 consecutive budgets of zero or lower, in fact it was Greg’s motion in two of those years that actually reduced taxes, once by 1% and then by .5%, which in civic jurisdictions never happens.
After 22 years in the family insurance business, Greg found himself at a time in his life where if he was going to change direction, it was then. He struggled with his love of politics and his passion for business, but felt he was destined to be a multi-sectoral advocate for business, and decided to sell his shares in the company, retire from his insurance career and take a run at the Mayors chair. At the age of 44, with 9 years of municipal politics under his belt, he launched what would be an unprecedented Mayoral race in the history of Cambridge. November 13th, 2000, on his wife’s birthday, Greg was defeated by a mere 26 votes, in the closest mayoral contest in the City’s history. Greg continuing with his ever strong optimistic view on everything, said “I’d rather lose by 26 than win and know that every second person you ran into didn’t want you as Mayor”. The day after the election Greg received a call from the Chamber of Commerce asking if he was interested in the chief administrators position. The Chamber had been operating well under the guidance of an interim administrator, but they were about to embark on the construction of their 1.5 million dollar Business and Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Hwy 401 and 24, and felt permanent leadership is what they needed. 28 days after the historic mayoral contest, Greg was appointed President/CEO of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. Greg oversaw the construction of the new building, developed new programs, created new revenue opportunities for the Chamber and guided the Chamber through it’s most aggressive membership increases in its history. When Greg took over the Chamber they had 676 members ranking in the mid range size of Chamber’s in the Province of Ontario. Today, the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce membership stands at over 1900 and is now ranked as the largest Chamber of Commerce in the Province of Ontario. Greg credits the wisdom and vision of the Board of the Chamber at the time, for going ahead with the construction of the Gateway project and says “The decision of the Board in 2000, to move forward in building the Gateway was a very bold and risky decision, however it has paid off in spades for the business community and broader community as well”.
Under Greg’s leadership the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce has taken its place as true leaders in the Chamber movement, always looking out of the box in program development, aggressive in its desire to embrace technology, sustainability and creativity. One of the most technologically advanced websites in the Chamber world is hosted by the Chamber. Video interviews, member interviews, audio podcasts, social media connections, integrated database and much more. Greg is eager to develop more tools, he is proposing one of the most comprehensive election sites with video interviews and on the street videos during the election. The Chamber has built a studio in its offices to film, produce and create video profiles and interviews.
Greg was encouraged to do a blog as he always has an opinion on something, however in the true spirit of Greg Durocher, not wanting to shine the light on himself, he created a Cambridge Chamber blog. He felt that consistency is good, that the Chamber should have a blog but contributions from Chair’s or other staff might also fit nicely and if it was his own blog, he’d have to take the credit and/or criticism for it, when it may not even be his own. It is highly unlikely others will post, as said before, Greg is rather opinionated and even controversial and loves to get his message out to whomever will listen. You may not always agree, but you will have to agree on one thing, Greg makes his point known, and never ever insists he has all the answers, he humbly suggests, “read them, if you wish, don’t jump to conclusions all at once and be mindful that most of my opinions come from my experiences, if they are wrong, then it must have been a dream not an experience and I apologize for that in advance”.
As past Chair Brian Butcher from Advertech Design Communication Inc., often says, “it ain’t your father’s Chamber anymore”. Greg takes little credit for its growth and dynamic operating principles and focuses on the enthusiasm of his staff and that the building gave him the hook he needed and has often said, “anyone could have done this with such a fantastic building and visionary Board”, but the community knows where a lot of the credit rests and it’s not just because Greg has so much knowledge and breadth in his skills, it is because of Greg’s passion and commitment to Cambridge and business, he is a natural motivator, he is always inspiring by his dedicated and committed work ethics and motivating with his continual and almost non-stop out of the box thinking. Hold on Cambridge Chamber Members, you never know what Durocher is going to do next, but you can be sure, it will be to help you grow your business.